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Wildlife

Why are muskies the fish of 10,000 casts? Illinois study explains

URBANA, Ill. – For anglers, landing a muskellunge, or muskie, is a big deal. The “fish of 10,000 casts” is notoriously elusive, making the massive fish an even bigger prize when one finally strikes a lure.

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Camera-trap study provides photographic evidence of pumas' ecological impact

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A camera-trap study of two ecosystems – one with pumas and one without – adds to scientists’ understanding of the many ways apex predators influence the abundance, diversity and habits of other animals, including smaller carnivores.

Reported in the journal Ecosphere, the study followed multiple members of the order Carnivora, looking at how the largest carnivore in each locale influenced the behavior and presence of other animals in the same vicinity.

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Team streamlines DNA collection, analysis for elephant conservation

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new DNA-collection approach allows scientists to capture genetic information from elephants without disturbing the animals or putting their own safety in jeopardy. The protocol, tested on elephant dung, yielded enough DNA to sequence whole genomes not only of the elephants but also of the associated microbes, plants, parasites and other organisms – at a fraction of the cost of current approaches.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Frontiers in Genetics.

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Study: Canada geese beat humans in longstanding territory battle

URBANA, Ill. – Canada geese collide with aircraft, intimidate unassuming joggers, and leave lawns and sidewalks spattered with prodigious piles of poop. They’re widely considered nuisance birds, and municipalities invest considerable time and money harassing geese to relocate the feisty flocks. But new University of Illinois research shows standard goose harassment efforts aren’t effective, especially in winter when birds should be most susceptible to scare tactics.

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‘Devastatingly cute’ bats look for bugs in forest clearings and corridors

URBANA, Ill. – Forest managers cut down trees, but their ultimate goal is to keep forests healthy and growing. Bats might help with that, according to recent University of Illinois research, thanks to their appetite for bugs that could otherwise destroy tree seedlings.

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Illinois report says native fish overlooked as invaders in U.S. waters

URBANA, Ill. – Rivers split across mountaintops and other geographic barriers may flow only a few miles from one another, but to the aquatic creatures in those waters, the separation could represent millions of years of evolutionary time. So, when an angler or a curious child moves a fish from one side of the mountain or one side of the country to the other, it’s a very big deal to the fish. Some may discover a competitive advantage in a new stream, potentially disrupting eons-old ecological hierarchies.

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Bats protect young trees from insect damage, with three times fewer bugs

URBANA, Ill. – Bats help keep forests growing. Without bats to hold their populations in check, insects that munch on tree seedlings go wild, doing three to nine times more damage than when bats are on the scene. That’s according to a groundbreaking new study from the University of Illinois.

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How genetic diversity could avoid threat of deadly disease in endangered deer

URBANA, Ill. – Chronic wasting disease, the prion disease affecting white-tailed deer and other cervids, is spreading. With documented cases in 29 U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, three Scandinavian countries, and South Korea, free-ranging and captive cervids are under threat. Efforts to conserve endangered deer against this backdrop are understandably fraught.

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Bats’ midnight snacks reveal clues for managing endangered species

URBANA, Ill. – How do we bring threatened and endangered animals back from the brink? The task is never easy or simple, but one thing is undeniably true: If we don’t understand these animals and what they need to survive, we have little chance of success.

Saving bats, then, is arguably a trickier endeavor than for other species. After all, the cryptic critters only emerge at night and are highly mobile, making it difficult to track their movements and behavior.

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Illinois study suggests the humble minnow can take the heat(wave)

URBANA, Ill. – Humans aren’t the only ones suffering through unprecedented heatwaves in a warming climate. Consider the humble minnow. These tiny fish represent the all-important base of the food chain in many freshwater ecosystems. And like all fish, minnows adjust their body temperature to match their surroundings. As climate change turns up the heat, could minnows cook?

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